Popular Christian Dance Moves: Be the Life of the Congregation!

You know, back in the day, we wondered if Christians should be dancing at all. There was even a school of thought that said we teens should take a note from home for those weeks when they pushed back the big curtains that divided boys’ side of the gym from the girls’, so they could teach us square dancing.

I was stricter on myself than my church ever was, but even I decided that square dancing fell into the category of Good Clean Fun.

But lately it seems like plenty of us Christians are dancing weird steps.

This occurred to me last year, when I saw a “Bible prophecy expert” doing a popular dance which I have taken the liberty to label…

The False Prophet Backpedal

So, this man told me that he had it all figured out: Christ would return on September 13, 2015. When that event “cameth not to pass,” he discovered that it was his arithmetic, not his prophecy, that was at fault: the true date for the rapture is now Oct 2, 2016 [Note to self – remember to email {name omitted} on Oct 3 and see if he’s still with us]. But a little sleuthing on my part, and it turned up that the same guy had already predicted that the End would come in September, 2011 – it was a slam-dunk certainty that time, too. When I pointed this out to him, he did the False Prophet Backpedal: Step 1, “I never said that”; 2, “I may have said that, but it’s not what I meant”; 3, “you are wicked for pointing out that I said that.” My guess is that he will later this year take Step 4: “it was a typo, I meant to say 2017.” (See my article, “How to Calculate when Jesus will Come, Without Even being a Prophet”) (Update in 2019 – yeah, he is still going at it)

Don’t try this at home, kids, but for purposes of illustration, here are the steps of the FP Backpedal. Cue music:

The False Prophet Backpedal
The False Prophet Backpedal

And suddenly, it seems like everywhere I look, we are trying out new dance steps. For example:

The Pulpit Sidestep

Someone asks you about a touchy issue? One way around it is the “sidestep.” Also known as the “Dodge City Dodge,” the practitioner gives non-answers to difficult questions (the doctrine of election is but one example). It is commonly danced to the tune “There are Three Sides to Ever-y Question” by Patsy Cline I think [? Note to self: Remember to “Ask Jeeves”]). Its 5 steps: Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, and Dodge!

The Pulpit Sidestep
The Pulpit Sidestep

The To and Fro Dash

This dance is easy to learn but hard to keep up: just run in one random direction; then veer off in another direction for a while; then haphazardly in another direction; you get the point. Newcomers to this dance might want to visualize a wind blowing them “to and fro.” The dancer is nothing if not living in the moment, and you can never guess which new author with a new doctrine (I don’t know, say, “Mustard-Seed Multi-Sensorialism”) or diet (maybe, “What Would Terah Bite?”) will be The Answer to All our Questions from month to month! Exhausting for the dancer, and also for people who watch from the sidelines. Requirement: a very large dance floor with lots of space.


The Twist

Yeah, someone in the 60s ripped off the name of this dance, but scholars have proven that it was around for centuries before Chubby Checker. Just take any Bible verse in both hands, and rotate them in opposing directions. It will back up anything you want to say, I promise! A good song for the Twist is “Let’s Do It My Way,” by the well-known Doo-Wop group, “The Proof Texts.”

Twist It!
Twist It!

The Slayer

Not a teen vampire movie. This dance has only two steps, and it leaves one partner unconscious. 1) smack your partner on the forehead until they fall down, 2) do the Power Strut around the body.

A guy I saw on Dance TV does The Slayer!
A guy I saw on Dance TV does The Slayer!

The Discipleship Waltz

Discipleship sometimes gets stalled in the early stages. Fans of the Discipleship Waltz keep taking their people around in the first few steps of life in Christ – 1, 2, 3…1, 2, 3! They never advance beond 3. This is a circle dance, and the dancer will take you back to the very place you started.


The Hotdog Reel

The eightsome reel is a classic folk dance, and I have even done it a few times while living in Britain. And you can watch Cary Grant doing the Reel at 1:30 – “What about that? Pretty good, huh?” This consists in the principal dancer, well, hot-dogging. Often seen in pulpits of churches where the main attraction is the show-off pastor, and his main gift is entertaining or being provocative, whether telling jokes in Aramaic, or in gymnastics, yelling, or – in latter days – using four-letter words. Hot-dogging.

The Stomp

Lift your foot on high, then pound it down on some unsuspecting person. Do the Stomp Now! Most preachers who do The Stomp are careful not to flatten people in the actual audience. They won’t come down on people for being unloving, impatient, aggressive, greedy for consumer items; but will happily come down on the sins of people who aren’t present: Them. Those Outsiders. The Libs. The PCs. The progressives. People in the congregation are warned not to hang around the Stompees.

Do the Stomp!
Do the Stomp!

The Get Down Jitterbug

Yes, there are complementarians and there are egalitarians. But I’m talking “attitude” here, not theological-cultural camps. This dance illustrates the stance of certain men toward a woman, many women, or women in general. You know who I mean, no matter what label they wear: the main step is, to keep the man leading and to keep the woman down; otherwise, well, We Will Lose the War, The Terrorists Will Win, and You Son Will Beg You to let him take Ballet. Some women willingly participate in the Get Down Jitterbug. I call it the Get Down Jitterbug, mainly because this picture tells a thousand words:

The Get Down Jitterbug

The Hokey-Pokey

“Yeah, so, I’m really struggling in my Christian walk. I need to get my act together and get into the Word and devote myself to prayer. Yeah, this is what I really need to do. Yup. I could be doing much better, but I’m not. I’m wrestling with sin.” [Note to self: question – if someone grabs sin, wraps sin’s hands around one’s own throat, and falls down so that sin lands on him – is that “wrestling”, really?]. Yes, there is a kid’s dance that has the same name, but once again, it was stolen from a much older tradition [Note to self: reference Chubby Checker, above]. [Note to self: should write fewer notes to self].

The Hokey Pokey
The Hokey Pokey

Other Dances:

There are Two-Steps; Break Dances; The Flip-Flop (like Hip-Hop, but without the silent “fl”), and many more. I kindly invite my faithful readers to keep their eyes peeled and send in their suggestions.

Go dancing if you like! But I’d avoid these popular new steps. After all, the Christian life is a walk, not the gyrations mentioned above.

“Popular Christian Dance Moves: Be the Life of Every Congregation!”, by Gary S. Shogren, PhD, Professor of New Testament at Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica

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